Category Archives: Security

7 Step Model Of Migration Into A Cloud

7 Step Model Of Migration Into A Cloud

Migrating an application to the cloud is not an easy task. It is important to strictly adhere to the seven step model to ensure that the process is robust and error free. The seven stages of migrating into a cloud are outlined below.

1. Assess

Migration starts with an assessment of the issues relating to migration, at the application, code, design, and architecture levels. Moreover, assessments are also required for tools being used, functionality, test cases, and configuration of the application. The proof of concepts for migration and the corresponding pricing details will help to assess these issues properly.

2. Isolate

The second step is the isolation of all the environmental and systemic dependencies of the enterprise application within the captive data center. These include library, application, and architectural dependencies. This step results in a better understanding of the complexity of the migration.

3. Map

A mapping construct is generated to separate the components that should reside in the captive data center from the ones that will go into the cloud.

4. Re-architect

It is likely that a substantial part of the application has to be re-architected and implemented in the cloud. This can affect the functionalities of the application and some of these might be lost. It is possible to approximate lost functionality using cloud runtime support API.

5. Augment

The features of cloud computing service are used to augment the application.

6. Test

Once the augmentation is done, the application needs to be validated and tested. This is to be done using a test suite for the applications on the cloud. New test cases due to augmentation and proof-of-concepts are also tested at this stage.

7. Optimize

The test results from the last step can be mixed and so require iteration and optimization. It may take several optimizing iterations for the migration to be successful.

It is best to iterate through this seven step model as this will ensure the migration to be robust and comprehensive.

By John Rosenblum

The Risks Of Moving To The Cloud

The Risks Of Moving To The Cloud

In the current global economic climate, companies and enterprises are required to migrate to cloud-based deployment models in order reduce costs and become self-sustainable. Post the dot-com bubble, the development of advanced web and storage technologies has been on the ascension. One such revolutionary technology developed post the dot-com era is cloud Computing, which focuses on the deliverance of computing services over the Internet. The highlight characteristic of cloud computing technologies is that they bring about system independence, multi-tenancy, scalability, virtualization, and more. Due to these benefits, companies and organizations are keen on migrating to cloud computing platforms.

Security is a prime area of concern for businesses when planning to migrate to cloud based services, along with other concerns such as reliability and integrating capability with existing IT infrastructure. There are already numerous assertions made by major technology companies regarding the rise of cloud-based deployments. In a recent conference, Cisco stated that it will be a tedious task to monitor data transferred to and from the cloud. On the flip side, renowned cloud service providers like and Amazon Web Services state that the fears regarding security risks in cloud-based models are sort of overblown.

Based on the requirement and business niche, businesses can choose from four types of cloud deployment models: Public cloud, Community cloud, Hybrid cloud, and Private cloud. A recent study disclosed that in the next four years about 50% of existing small and medium-sized businesses will shift to cloud-based deployment models. Though the security risks pertaining to cloud-based services are yet to be documented, it is wise for businesses to be aware of the impending security breaches that the cloud-based models are prone to. Some of the well-known security risks that cloud-based models bring about are long-term viability, data segregation & location, data recovery, regulatory compliance, and privileged user access.

Cloud-based service users have reported several glitches and failures, while using the cloud. A recent test conducted by a security firm revealed that almost half of all the cloud-based software services flunked the prescribed security level. Moreover, the quality of existing cloud-based applications for business critical domains did not meet the prescribed high security level, and it is reported that cross-scripting errors are the cause of close to 50% of all vulnerabilities. There are two perspectives to security risks on a cloud, one is a provider perspective and another is the user perspective. I have aggregated below the most common security risks from both perspectives.

  • Assess the level of access that the service provider has to your cloud. Before selecting a cloud-based service provider, evaluate and set the level of control in the service level agreement.
  • Multi-tenancy is one of the inherent characteristics of a cloud-based deployment. As a result, there is a high risk of mechanism failures due to routing and lack of storage separation.
  • Industry regulatory requirements for certain certifications are exposed to security breaches as a result of migrating to the cloud. For this purpose, it is mandatory for cloud service providers to provide compliance and allow customers to audit their cloud-based deployments.
  • For businesses seeking to set up public clouds, they are prone to exposing their customer access points and interfaces through the web. This risk is even higher, when combining the vulnerabilities of remote access and web browsers.
  • Data protection is one of the prime security risks that come along with cloud-based deployment models. In certain cases, it is hard for a user to check the data management practices of a cloud service provider.
  • As cloud-based deployment models have large amounts of data in transit between the remote system and cloud infrastructure, there is need for virtual private network like secure connection to increase the credibility. VPNs ensure secure data transfer, while safeguarding the network from spoofing, side channel cyber attacks and other kinds of network attacks.
  • Data deletion is not guaranteed. If you want to delete a data on a cloud, it is uncertain that whether or not data is clearly wiped out or can be recovered. It is understood that in certain cases additional copies are stored, but cannot be deleted as the disk to be formatted also stores other data.

In conclusion, the security risks of moving to cloud-based models are high, but can be minimized by adopting certain strategies. In order to allay the fears of security risks, businesses are required to evaluate risk mitigation strategies and de-risking strategies. After migrating to cloud-based deployments, it is essential for businesses to engage in active risk management and spend time monitoring the cloud.

By Carlene Masker

Carlene Masker is a technology enthusiast who is fond of writing helpful tips and fresh tidbits of information about the different fields in technology and innovation. She is currently working with Telco Services where you can find the latest information on Verizon FiOS deals.

Using The Cloud To Extend Your Online Presence With Merchant Services

Using The Cloud To Extend Your Online Presence With Merchant Services

Retailers in today’s global, information driven world are often faced with a paradox. They want to reach as many customers as possible, but do it with the least effort and cost to the business. At the same time, they want to retain customers by providing a great customer experience.

Companies often now do online marketing with tools such as Facebook and Twitter, which help provide a visible profile of the organization beyond just the company’s website, but the value these add to customers is somewhat limited because they aren’t directly integrated with the company’s store and don’t tie in the company’s customer data to provide a better online experience. Such tools do help a company increase their online profile and online reputation though, and provide value through this.

One very simple way to increase a company’s exposure to new customers and thus increase revenue is to join an existing online merchant, such as eBay, Amazon, or Google Merchant. By doing this, a company can increase exposure to a tremendous new audience of potential customers, at relatively little cost. There are a number of considerations that must be planned out before undertaking a project like this though.

As an example, let’s consider a company that wants to implement eBay integration with an existing brick and mortar store. eBay offers an online eBay store to paying customers, at relatively low cost. These stores allow an eBay customer (our company) to define their own store name, customize the store look and feel, configure up to 300 store categories, and, most importantly, when items are listed in the eBay store, they are also listed on the eBay auction site in one or two auction categories. This listing of items on the auction site at the same time as listing them in an eBay store significantly increases visibility of your items to new customers. Think about it! eBay has several million people on its online auction site every day.  Amazon and other similar services can offer the same kind of exposure as well.

So why aren’t all stores jumping on the online merchant bandwagon? There are several reasons. First, inventory management can be tough when you are selling the same item from the same warehouse or store in a brick and mortar store and online.

Also, order fulfillment can be more complicated. A sale online may or may not need to charge taxes, depending on where the buyer and seller are physically located. Reaching a global market also can introduce currency exchange and export issues that may be challenging to overcome. Lastly, shipping costs may be an issue with online selling, whereas in a traditional brick and mortar store shipping is typically a non-issue. A company must also be careful to manage its online reputation, and with a bigger online presence, this becomes a bigger issue.

Generally, there are two ways a company can achieve this integration with the big online merchant sites. The simplest method to start out is to dedicate some inventory just to the online merchant store, and hire or reassign one or more employees to manage it manually. This is quick to get started, but doesn’t scale well if your online presence grows. The better method is to use cloud-based integration that can communicate directly with the online merchant’s systems to post items and adjust inventory, and bring orders from the merchant system to your standard store system for order fulfillment. Not only does using cloud integration make growing pains easier to overcome, it tends to be faster, much more scalable, and future proof. Also, by integrating with your existing online or point of sale systems, you can still take advantage of other integration you are already using, such as exporting data to your accounting system.

By Charles Almond

Charles Almond is a software developer for nChannel, and an Associate Professor of Computer and Information Technology at West Virginia University at Parkersburg.

Why Cloud Computing Projects May Fail

Why Cloud Computing Projects May Fail

Cloud Computing offers a large number of benefits which make an enterprise switch over to the cloud. From startups to medium and large enterprises all are keen to adopt it mainly due to the cost saving in cloud computing. However it is very important to realize that like any other new technologies there are some risks of failure. Some of the likely reasons for the failure of cloud computing projects are mentioned below.

1. Lack of managing and monitoring applications

It is a common belief that developers can start coding immediately after switching to the cloud. They no longer need to worry about the development environment. This is true to some extent but they still need to manage and monitor their application to avert failure. Lack of monitoring and managing of the application may lead to high cost of operation and eventually project failure.

2. Lack of people with skills-set

Any cloud computing projects entail people with the right skills-set to complete it successfully. Since cloud computing is a relatively new technology the availability of people with the right skills-set and experience are very rare. This could lead to project failure if not addressed early.

3. Lack of scrutinizing vendors

Cloud computing suffers from lack of standardization of Service Level Agreement or SLAs. Service providers must address certain aspects like where the data resides, failover remedies, backup, disaster recovery etc. in full details. Failure to understand the importance of these issues in SLAs may expose the project to a high risk of failure.

4. Failure to understand requirements, technology and legacy data

Like any traditional project, failure to understand the requirements upfront can eventually lead to project failure. The wrong requirements may produce wrong architecture design, database schema and technology. This eventually leads to an application that is not what the client wants. Failure to understand the legacy systems can also increase the risk of failure.

5. Early Adoption

Businesses are adopting it as a reaction to the hype surrounding cloud computing. The decision is often based on a particular technology or model. This will increase the chance of failure. Businesses should consider all models and technologies before switching to the cloud.

6. Lack of the holistic approach

It is very important for the businesses to ensure that the application they are developing in the cloud are in line with the overall IT strategy and enterprise architecture. Failure to ensure this can produce another application or system that does not work well with other existing systems.

By John Roseblum

Cloud Computing For The Telecommuter

Cloud Computing For The Telecommuter

Cloud Computing For The Telecommuter

Telecommuting is the new way of working. The days when people had to be physically present at work are far behind. Working from home is a more cost effective, efficient, and easy option. That is why many companies have adopted it fully or partially. Cloud computing helps telecommuting to be effective because there are so many applications hosted online you can use to work efficiently from home.

Managing projects

The life of a telecommuter can be hectic. You probably have different current project, briefs, timelines, and so much more. This means that if you don’t have an effective project management system, disorganization and mismanagement will be the result. Different project management systems are available via cloud computing. These allow you to manage your projects, keep track of correspondence, assign to-do lists, and so forth, to ensure that your projects run smoothly.

Invoicing clients

Invoicing can be a nightmare for telecommuters. Keeping track of all of your clients’ details and payments due may force you to hire an accountant. This can only happen for an extra expense. There are different cloud-accounting systems like Freshbooks which allow you to invoice clients in a straightforward manner. This can cut the stress that comes with manually creating invoices and chasing after clients to pay for your services or products.

Managing documents

Most telecommuting jobs require you to handle documents: write, keep records, send, and receive reports. They make the lifeline of a telecommuter. There are different documenting platforms available for telecommuters, such as Google Documents. Such a solution not only allows you to complete word processing tasks, but also to create spreadsheets and presentations, without having to pay for a software package that does the same tasks.

Sharing files

Telecommuters often need to share files too large to be sent via e-mails. There are different cloud file sharing solutions online you can rely on for this function. Some of them allow you to share a substantial amount of data for free. Others are paid hosting, where, for a fee, you can share huge files with clients easily.

Sending and receiving e-mails

For most telecommuters, e-mail communication is crucial. Although the free versions of the e-mail hosting platforms, such as Gmail or Yahoo can offer sufficient data capacity, sometimes you may need extra megabytes and this comes with an additional cost.

Video calling

There are some clients who prefer face-to-face communications with their contractors. For telecommuters, VoIP calls or Skype are excellent choices.

Overall, cloud computing has a solution for any function that is part of a telecommuter’s job. These are only few of the cloud solutions you can rely on to boost your efficiency.

By Gregory Musungu

Does The Flat Model Offer Enough Security In Cloud Computing?

Does The Flat Model Offer Enough Security In Cloud Computing?

The kind of network model that one employs to compile, distribute and exchange data determines the security of its passage through the Internet. This brings the question of whether the flat model can serve as the best security option for cloud computing. This model, first of all, helps to create a more direct relationship between the data provider and the recipient compared to tiered structures. Tiered structures are networks that have not only the access and the core but other integrated endpoints within the distribution path. The flat system only has the access and end points. It virtually eliminates the necessity of intermediaries, which leads to fast and more reliable information retrieval.

The basic question is: is it still the way to go when thinking about cloud security?

Security in flat cloud

The tiered networks, for one, have always relied on data providers to install safety measures. They cut access to data that is considered a threat through firewalls and such. The flat model has only the gadgets/equipment in use to blame for anything that happens during the information migration.

According to analysts, the above is a better security measure because it does not arbitrarily block content like tiered end points often do. A firewall may restrict data even when it reveals the faintest signs of a bug in it but the flat network relies on the comparatively advanced detection system in place. Furthermore, since the advent of the access-core model, many capable entrepreneurs have displaced old-time providers who manipulated the end points with outdated machines. Servers, nowadays, from independent layers are more advanced and thus higher in protection.

The other pro about the flat model is that it consists of software that can overcome restrictions, automatically, to gain access to another point. This eliminates the need of multiple middlemen, each with a private firewall, like the hierarchal systems have. The security blessing here is that when middlemen reduce, security issues go down.

Secure architecture

For the cloud to operate efficiently, it must have a dynamic architecture. These are nodes that intertwine, each feeding the other with information across various data networks. One of the chief advantages of the architecture of the flat model is that it is linear. There are no more clash points that are apparent in multi-tier networks, nor are there slow human middlemen to direct data traffic.

The security implication of this architecture is that it eliminates the delays that can help hackers to study a layer and make a move, in transit, before one retrieves data. This might appear a very theoretical assumption but the fact that machines have split-second detection capabilities to give or not give access to networks nullifies any doubts. There is no need to transfer from one node to another to find a safe entry point to a database, through trial and error. In the flat model, one is switched automatically to the safest node to a database available. If none is secure, the device itself, on either the core or access point, automatically denies entry.

So, is it secure after all?

It is hardly possible that the flat model is an entirely secure platform for cloud computing especially considering that it relies on the advanced technology of servers and devices to respond to security concerns. If outdated machinery is in use, then there is nothing networks can do than employ the good old firewalls. They have to deal with single websites depending on whether they want one to access them or not.

The IP addresses available for running access-to-core flat cloud networks are also limiting. Recent years have seen so many independent networks grab the opportunity to use this free model that congestion is setting in. This might be a future concern of safe data distribution.

In summary, one can say that cloud computing is in the hands of different networks. The flat model appears to be the nearest thing to achieving fast data exchanges, besides offering comparatively better security than the other options. However, the security is not sufficient and network providers will need to gang up to improve on it.

By John Omwamba

Harmonize The Best Capabilities Of Cloud And On-Premise Solutions

Harmonize The Best Capabilities Of Cloud And On-Premise Solutions

What distinguishes the most innovative, dynamic backup and recovery solutions from the rest of the pack? Is it the benefits that come with transitioning from tape to disk? Is it shorter backup windows and faster recovery times? Is it the confidence that no matter where data is stored, it is totally secure and can be recovered right when you need it?  Yes, it’s all of these.

But a more elemental, evolutionary leap is underway. It’s the cloud, connected to your organization.

While the cloud may not be the ideal foundation for every organization’s data protection needs, it undeniably offers virtually every company many clear and compelling data storage advantages. Organizations that fail to put the cloud to use for backup and recovery, in the right way at the right time, are handicapping a vital business process.

Cloud-connected storage solutions use the power of the cloud selectively, enabling you to combine cloud-based and on-premise technologies in a seamless hybrid that provides exactly the right mix of security, accessibility, affordability, and performance.

This paper explores how cloud-connected offerings are taking center stage and helping customers thrive in the evolving, exciting data protection environment.

A New Paradigm for Data Protection

It’s not an easy time to be tasked with protecting corporate information. First, your organization is probably generating enormous amounts of new data—by everything from large-scale applications and heavy volumes of emails to massive files in new media formats. At the same time, user demands and service-level expectations continue to grow. And to intensify matters, IT operating environments are becoming more complex; they commonly comprise multiple sites around the world—each running its own unique blend of hardware, applications, and databases, as well as distinct business processes.

Despite facing these challenges, many management teams are reluctant to invest in the very solutions that could better manage their environments. Alas, government and industry overseers aren’t sympathetic to this frugality; they continue to devise and enforce regulations mandating information integrity and access. And of course, data damaging disasters and outages are an ever-present threat.

For many years, companies have used magnetic tape to harbor their backed up information, but these legacy technologies simply can’t keep up. They lack compression and encryption, and they rely on laborious, manually intensive processes, making them slow and vulnerable. Disk-based solutions provide a much faster, more efficient, and more secure foundation for backup and recovery.

Disk-to-disk data protection is state of the art. When you pair on-premise disk-based technology with the powerful scalability and flexibility of the cloud, your organization can do even better.

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Executive Discussions Are Changing To Include The Cloud

Executive Discussions Are Changing To Include The Cloud

Cloud computing is a disruptive force.  Having worked with many of Western Canada’s CIOs and senior executives over the past year, rarely have I had a discussion that didn’t include the topic of cloud computing.  This style of computing is improving the way in which technology is procured, delivered, and consumed.  Companies that embrace cloud will benefit from continuous innovation and gain a competitive advantage over those that delay their strategy for too long or ignore completely.

Executive discussions are changing to include the cloud. They are questioning if they continue with on-premise solutions or if they make a move to the cloud and SaaS offerings.  Executives also want to know how they leverage cloud-based applications to transform their business over the coming years.  The fundamental business value of a cloud-based service is that it is easier to use, faster to deploy, flexible to adapt to your specific business environment and has a lower upfront costs than traditional software.

From an industry perspective, cloud computing adoption is gaining traction across industries such as energy & utilities, government, retail, banking and insurance.  Healthcare and education also have great potential.  Since cloud computing is a broad topic, take the time to understand the role of cloud within the context of your own industry.

Forward thinking organizations in both the private and public sectors are actively evaluating cloud-based application services because of the changing economic business environment.  Cloud computing should be at the top of the list for initiatives focused on decreasing costs, while at the same time, increasing employee productivity and organization agility.  Reframe your company’s mindset and discussions from “if we move to cloud computing” to “how do we move to cloud computing” and address a variety of scenarios.

So how do you get started on bringing cloud computing to your organization? Begin with these three questions to help outline the transition and starting point?
Questions to start asking yourself and your team:

  1. What services can we potentially move to the cloud today?
  2. How can we leverage cloud computing to provide better services to our customers and constituents?
  3. Where can cloud technologies play a role at increasing employee productivity?

Yes, there are risks that need to be considered…but, we risk more by doing nothing.  Start having the discussions today on how your organization will leverage cloud computing to meet the demands of a constantly changing business environment.

(Note: This blog post is my own opinion and is not meant to reflect the opinion of my employer.)

By Brian Clendenin

Brian Clendenin is the Enterprise Regional Sales Manager for Western Canada at SuccessFactors, an SAP Company. Clendenin is responsible for managing SuccessFactors’ business relationships across all verticals in the region. Clendenin has more than a decade of technology experience in a variety of sales roles. Prior to SuccessFactors, Clendenin served in Enterprise Sales at Gartner, Inc. where he provided advisory and consulting services for emerging technology in cloud computing and enterprise social networking areas to address strategic and tactical business execution.

Brian graduated from the University of Oregon with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature. He currently resides in Vancouver, British Columbia and serves on the Advisory Committee at the Canadian Cloud Council.

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